What do you do when you are stuck in a cluttered, ugly or distracting photo location for a lifestyle portrait session? Maybe it’s the only space you can photograph your bride and groom in a running-out-of-time fragment of the wedding day. Maybe you can’t change angles because you’ll lose your perfect light. Maybe it’s an in-home family session, and the home is just, well, “lived in.”
Whatever the reason, here’s three quick strategies you can use to still capture beautiful photos.
Screen out an offending background with a prismatic filter
I love my Fractal Filters, not only for the cool lighting effects I can achieve, but because they make a really handy screen. Piles of chairs, agricultural equipment, you name it: With careful positioning you can block out whatever you want.
Shoot tight on your subjects
Oldest trick in the book, maybe, but it works! Shoot tight and crop out whatever’s not working. Done!
Turn it black and white to focus on the moment
This works really well when the background is filled with brightly colored clutter. Household stuff, brightly painted walls, construction workers, traffic cones, street signs, parked cars … whatever it is, turning off the color focuses the eye back onto what matters: Your subjects.
Bonus tip: If all else fails, Photoshop is your friend
If you can’t get it right in camera, remove it in post. Editing out an offending background is a reliable last resort — albeit a time-consuming one.
I took the below photos in a front garden, and the light and greenery were beautiful. But there were two huge, brightly colored rubbish bins — and a speedboat — in the background every time I shot into the sun. I had no choice but to clone them out — I couldn’t change angle because I would have lost the light effect I was trying to achieve.
When it comes down to it, your subject and the moment is what really matters. If it’s the only shot you can get, then don’t worry if the background isn’t perfect. The memory is what matters!